They Mean Us
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They Mean Us


Band Rock Avant-garde


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They Mean Us @ KSYM 90.1

San Antonio, Texas, USA

San Antonio, Texas, USA

They Mean Us @ Cine El Rey

McAllen, Texas, USA

McAllen, Texas, USA

They Mean Us @ Simon Sez

McAllen, Texas, USA

McAllen, Texas, USA

This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



The best quotes aren’t necessarily the ones you remember word for word. No, they are the ones leading you into further thought and recollection. Don’t get tripped up in the eloquence of someone else’s diction or prose; focus on their big idea. An instrumental band such as They Mean Us lacks the simplest of identifiers: a voice. Their words of wisdom won’t be placed in blogs or tearjerker away messages. But they are no less memorable than other deft wordsmiths. Their lasting arrangements are not weighed down by opinions or mantras, so the context in which these songs thrive becomes all the more unique. Take each wavering cello strum (“Pickle Seals”) or tinkering vibraphone (“Wave Mustaine”) as your own, form them into memories and hold on to them for dear life.

They Mean Us aren’t heavy listening by any means. The songs found within Friendship Lottery don’t spend ages building up into spacey climaxes. Rather, their music uses more time searching for a new time signature or guitar tone. “Dan Mason” hits a point where other bands might lose the audience, but They Mean Us lead us into the chaos like a mother escorting her children across the street. A cello slowly fills the background while cymbals and bass drums occupy the left ear. During all this, a climbing riff overtakes the right ear, and yet, each instrument exists perfectly in its own little space. No sound becomes lost in the complicated arrangement. Moments like this are why They Mean Us rise above other cheery/mathy instrumental groups. “Armando Is A Velociwapta” eases itself in with an organic (but electronic) drumbeat and opaque, hanging synth notes. The tempo picks up a bit and They Mean Us release every ounce of their collective groovy-ness into the world, all while a cello softly mourns over feedback. (I don’t know why, but stringed instruments always sounds weepy to me.)

An uncharacteristically heavy riff begins closer “Better Than Japanese Fun Glasses.” But just as quickly as it begins, the playful ringing of a vibraphone begins to mimic the next shifting, melodic guitar riff. This song also finds the band using reverb to give themselves a little extra space to create magic. They Mean Us have a sly way of faking the listener out. In the midst of this “extra real estate,” a driving bass drum picks up speed and force, making an enveloping climax seem imminent. However, rather than doing the expected, They Mean Us send us right back into a bouncy riff and keyboard section. It seems a bit blue balls-esque, but the intricacies of the guitar picking and compositions more than make up for a lack of brute strength and sound. Friendship Lottery works like a sunny spring day. It energizes without being too forceful. I shouldn’t have to say this, but for the sake of completeness: music like this is few and far between. Revel in it.
- Blake Solomon

They Mean Us play simple, up-tempo mathy-postish-indie rock with a certain je ne sais quoi that permeates every aspect of this beautifully orchestrated semi-progressive instrumental euphoria. Celestial in tone, yet earthy in approach, this Texan sextet embosses a depth and tone to their music that has more in common with Scandinavian jazz heads The Samuel Jackson Five and Cleveland’s To Be a High Powered Executive than other Texan standard bearers. They Mean Us exist wholly apart from today’s derivative, boring post-rock and electronic scenes, spanning a breadth of styles and genres so gracefully it’s shocking to learn they haven’t been around since 1995 at the least.

Perhaps They Mean Us are most readily compared to the influx of emo influenced bands from the midwest in the 90’s. My ears detect hints of American Football, Cap ‘n Jazz, and Owen, but Friendship Lottery’s sound is that same clean guitar fueled jazzy aesthetic filtered through 10+ years of post rock, morphed into a truly powerful listening experience. Too many bands with such a wide array of styles and instruments at their disposal rely on creating an “envelope” of sound. They Mean Us uses the expanded palette of cello, dual guitar, electronics, bass and drums to develop a sort of focused perspective, initially drawing the listener from one theme to another, highlighting not individual instruments, but individual articulations and phrases. A calming, ghastly mood of defined purpose dominates this album, spreading an impassioned light of thoughtful preciseness, and that very precision gives this album a math rock feel with out jarring instrumentation or overly complex rhythmic accompaniment. There is no bad member, nor even a bad performance, in this group. They play off of, and occasionally on top of, each other very well. The diverse use of strings never conflict or bury each other in the mix. This speaks for the album’s fantastic production and the talent of the musicians behind it.

I have no gripe with Friendship Lottery, other than its inane title. I cannot think of a single person I would not recommend this album too. If you’re looking to get into instrumental music, this is where you should start. If you are already a fan of instrumental music, you have no excuse not to buy this right away. Get it now. A top contender for best EP of the year.

Score: 7.5/10 - Jack Britton

"Growing up, I remember thinking that instrumental music was synonymous to boring. I don't know where or why this idea came onto my head – I just know at some point I decided that if there weren't any vocals it was a waste of my time. Luckily, since then, I've come to my senses and realized that some instrumental bands are absolutely brilliant – leaving us reviewers with our heads spinning in an attempt to find adjectives that can compare to what we just heard. Many times, there are no adjectives. We have to fake it. That's what I was going to do with They Mean Us, before I realized how stupid of an idea that really is. I can assign genres, sure (for the record, it's a little bit of math rock, a little bit of progressive, and a whole lot of just flat-out goodness), but practically anyone can do that. I can also tell you that Friendship Lottery is intelligently written and unique and layered enough to continue being exciting after multiple listens. The problem with this is – if you have relatively decent ears and equally decent taste, literally seconds spent at the They Mean Us Myspace page will tell you all of that. Which is why I'm going to say the unsayable, breaking what I'm sure is an unwritten rule among music critics everywhere. I'm telling you, each and every single last one of you…

Stop reading this review right now. Just stop. If They Mean Us can't grab you with their own brand of quirky, twisty beauty, then there is absolutely no way that any sort of fancy wording on my part is going to be able to fix what must be intense damage to whatever nerve it is in your head that makes you recognize good music. I'm not going to try.

Instead, I'm just going to state the obvious. Friendship Lottery is refreshing in the sense that it shows an instrumental band that doesn't rely on drawn out, heartbreaking pieces to win over fans. They Mean Us focus their attention on crashing drums, layered with soaring and churning guitars, a brilliant sense of timing, and dozens upon dozens of little details to dig into. If tracks like "El Corrido De Rc", "Pickle Seals" and "Better Than Japanese Fun Glasses" aren't enough to satisfy you, something is very, very wrong.

If for some reason you didn't take my earlier advice and are still reading this, there's a huge chance that you're frustrated with me right now. Mimicking what I myself would be saying, you might be wondering, "Where's the track analysis???" But trust me here - you don't need that. Let They Mean Us speak for themselves. If nothing else, Friendship Lottery is very obvious proof of their capability in doing just that."

Overall Score:
4/5 - Cassie Gressell

Close your eyes and feel the music. Listen carefully to the guitars blending together. Note the rhythm of your heartbeat fall into time with the drums and bass. Open your eyes when you hear the sweet and sad hum of the violin. Follow the story of human emotions, the highs and lows one experiences in any situation. Fall in love with They Mean Us.

The five-piece band, made up of Micajah Nye, Hector Perez, Jesse Marquez, Jorge "B" Recio and Danny Soto, strives to convey a passion for music. There is no lead singer. They have no lyrics. Instead, They Mean Us use instrumental songs to tell stories.

"It's more fun to let the people get whatever meaning they want out of a song," Nye said. "Usually when you have lyrics, I feel like sometimes it's telling the person what they need to feel. When there are no lyrics whatsoever, you're completely free to feel however you want."

It's a difficult road they're traveling because most people want to sing along with the band, but They Mean Us are making it in a genre that isn't prevalent, especially in the Rio Grande Valley.

The band's goal is a simple one - to wake people up and make them feel something.

"[We want] to shake people out of their [expletive] apathy," Nye said with a laugh.

The progressive instrumental band, which is most often compared to Mogwai, is getting more recognition and playing more concerts in the Valley.

They Mean Us aren't necessarily looking for fame and fortune, they just want to tour, make more music and earn a modest living doing what they love.

"I don't care if I end up living in a trailer house, just as long as I can be on the road and tour and play music, then I'll be happy," Nye said.

Nye encourages those who haven't seen They Mean Us live to experience something new. Take a risk.

"The best thing, in my opinion, to become a better person is to try to experience things you're not used to. At least musically, down here, I believe that we're one of those bands that isn't doing what most people are doing."

- Amy Nichols

In the midst of the high-definition, words per minute and frames per second lives we lead, it’s easy to forget that it’s the things we don’t say that often leave the most lasting impressions. No matter our language or vocabulary, it’s the non-verbal cues and clues we give that unravel all the words to unmask our true intentions or dispositions. The most poignant of speeches can be reduced to mere background chatter by an unkempt appearance and anemic voice. Staring at her tits while complimenting her wit…you see what I mean.

Music is much the same way. Assuming the shoegaze position for an entire live set can crumble even the biggest wall of sound. Many otherwise great songs have been ruined by the likes of an amateur vocalist, and vice versa. McAllen, Texas’ They Mean Us side-step at least one of the above pitfalls and prove themselves as masters of the unspeakable. Their titanic album Friendship Lottery is truly one of the great communicators in the Instrumental genre that is tarnished by repetition, imitation, and for some, stagnation.

Typical to the genre, They Mean Us take a little longer to get their point across (“Pickle Seals” is the shortest of the six tracks clocking in just shy of the four minute mark), but by no means overstay their welcome. Rather than spend needless bars crafting celestial crescendo, They Mean Us rely on deft shifts of theme, tempo, style and perspective to draw the listener in. The sheer grace of it all is what keeps you there. Whimsical, That’s Your Fire era Aloha-esque vibraphone phrases, intricate American Football style guitar picking, rolling prog-rock bass lines, warm cello and tasteful electronics: Friendship Lottery takes the best elements of the past decade of music, fuses them, layers it, and executes it perfectly.

They Mean Us and Friendship Lottery bring to the table a peerless brand of post-ish rock without the drama, and math-rock without the geometrics. It’s less filling, and tastes great.

Genre: Instrumental/Math-Rock

RIYL: Toe, The Six Parts Seven, Dinomania

Label: Self-Released/Look Again Media

- Bradley

Tuesday, August 19th, 2008 at 5:00 pm - Indie Uprising

ECHO - September 2008
BEATS PER MONTH: Everyone Wins with the Friendship Lottery

When it comes to instrumental bands, the reviewing standard includes picking the offerings of the Mogwai and Tristeza trees, the Explosions in the Sky tree. However inappropriate or hackneyed, it is helpful to at least begin there, though the basket should not contain only those fruits for the comparison salad when the picking is done.

They Mean Us's 2007 release, "Friendship Lottery," is no exception to this rule, but somehow they are less like an instrumental band and more like a band whose singer has become a phantom, always on the verge of spilling poetry over the delicate network of instruments. Sure, you can certainly find a fair amount of the influential instrumental giants nestled into the tracks of TMU's 6 song disc, but imagining vocals accompanying each track (and it's not hard to do within the swells and lulls of each song) reveals so much more about the sestet's musical presence.

If a group calls itself progressive indie rock, it needs to maintain the status quo that the label connotes. Departing from the usual gravitation toward other instrumental bands, TMU is able to uphold the integrity of their genre by paying homage to epic elements of midwest indie movements. If "Better Than Japanese Fun Glasses" sounds a little too much like a hidden track from Tristeza's "Espuma" album, then grab hold of their most melodic effort, "Armando is a Velociwapta," which may as well be the soundtrack to a slow-motion train ride through Chicago. As the cello hums sweetly, softly throughout the song, memories of Very Secretary splash vividly across the whitewashed walls of the mind until the song finally ends in a slow eruption of sustained fuzz and a marked technicality of drumming and pauses that hearkens to C-Clamp and Braid.

The band achieves a wonderful balance of the euphonic and the chaotic, skipping back and forth between an orchestral finesse and an aggressive power play of instruments crashing to starts and stops in unison. Although the band retains classic elements of the 90s midwest indie revolution, they use the ideologies more as guidelines to create their own brand of progressive music and not as a safety net upon which to tumble due to a lack of creativity. The band is a hopeful adolescent, fingers thumbing a powerful talisman, looking bright-eyed toward the years to come.

|nicolas gonzales
|www. myspace. com/echo_the_zine - Nicolas Gonzales

Finally a band that critics would be hard-pressed to compare to Explosions in the Sky – an anomaly, wait, where?! About five miles from the Mexican border at the southern tip of Texas lies one of the Southeast’s fastest growing cities, McAllen, and one of the country’s more refreshing instrumental outputs. They Mean Us turns the violin, xylophone, and goofball song titles in to critical elements of a style that can, at times, be as discordant and angular as it can be gentle and caressing. And from what we hear, they put on quite a show.

Having just recovered from a minor lineup change, They Mean Us is beginning a scour of the bottom half of the country in support of the band’s recently released EP, Friendship Lottery. The album was mixed and mastered with help from Atlanta’s Mike Malpass; his assistance helped to flesh out the album’s defined percussion, moments of shoegazy atmospherics, and wonderfully scrappy rhythms.

They Mean Us will be playing Athens’s Caledonia Lounge on September 30th at 8 p.m. The band will be alongside the resident infallible Mouser and the Atlanta up-and-comers Ours to Alibi.

Sound: 4stars
Composition: 3stars
Musicianship: 3stars
Performance: 3stars
Total Rating: 13

Texas-based They Mean Us is musically as cryptic and enigmatic as its online persona. There's not much known about the personnel, and their sound draws from many sources that are difficult to pinpoint.
On This six-song EP they amass a considerable amount of content seemingly rooted in rock, free jazz, 20th Century Chamber music and assorted odds and ends. "El Corrido de RC" features vibraphone and guitars with weird rhythms and sound effects blended in. The result is kind of a lo-fi version of Pierre Moerlen's Gong. The cleverly titled "Wave Mustaine" follows with a jazzy/alt-rock groove that leads into a spacey and ambient bridge.
"Pickle Seals" has an atonal base supported by clever segues and soothing violin accompaniment, with heavy and reflective guitars. The three remaining tracks perpetuate more of the same and even suggest an early Brian Eno and Philip Glass influence.
- Eric Harabadian


Friendship Lottery E.P. - self-release 2007

For The Stereo Impaired E.P. - self release 2010



Formed in February of 2006, They Mean Us have been playing throughout the State of Texas with an idea of encouraging free/progressive thought through instrumental music.

Our ultimate goal is to contribute to the history of music and help progress the ideas within.

"Music like this is few and far between. Revel in it."
- Blake Solomon of AbsolutePunk.Net

"If They Mean Us can't grab you with their own brand of quirky, twisty beauty, then there is absolutely no way that any sort of fancy wording on my part is going to be able to fix what must be intense damage to whatever nerve it is in your head that makes you recognize good music."
- Cassie Gressell of ForTheSound.Com